The purpose of a mastermind group is to assist in and support its members in accomplishing those activities that would serve as escalators to move the group members to the next level of success in their careers. Mastermind groups are groups of like-minded individuals who collectively help each other develop their abilities through peer mentoring and by holding each other responsible for achieving specific goals by specific dates. To be effective, the group should meet at least once a month. The group that Brad belongs to is occupationally diverse. It is made up of six individuals: three professional speakers, two CEOs, and a vice president of a successful company. Conversely, the mastermind support group that David belongs to is occupationally similar. His group is composed of six world-champion speakers.
Brad: One of the things that I wanted to develop were audio CDs. I had written four books, but only had one CD program. I had been talking about developing more CD programs for a long time, and it was well past time for action. Therefore, one of the goals I set with my mastermind group was to complete an additional CD program by a certain date. Because I set this as an important goal in front of people who are important to me, I would lose face if I didn't complete it, plus they would hound me—I mean, inquire—about the progress of the CD program. Likewise, one of my counterparts in the group is a very talented and eloquent professional speaker. Because he is the CEO of his company and is very active with his church and his family, he has not put pen to paper to develop written descriptions for his presentations. These are absolutely necessary to secure speaking engagements. This is something that two of us in the group do quite well, so when he set his goal to develop three first-rate seminar/keynote descriptions, the other members in the group acted as coaches and mentors. Another member most needs to work on writing a book. Her goal is to write a series of newsletters and then turn these newsletters into a book. Yet another member wants to specialize in keynotes on leadership and the goal of the rest of the group is to make sure that he does everything in his power to achieve that goal.
David: The mastermind group I participate in operates similarly to Brad's in that we ask the others to help keep us accountable for our individual goals. Our group is different, though, in that all six of us are professional speakers and we all share a common achievement: We are all world champions of public speaking. Once a month, Mark Brown (1995 World Champion), Craig Valentine (1999 World Champion), Ed Tate (2000 World Champion), Darren LaCroix (2001 World Champion), Jim Key (2002 World Champion), and I meet via conference call. Because of the similarity of our businesses, we use our group meetings to exchange information that is of equal benefit to us all. For example, when one of us finds a product, service, or service provider that we like, we share it with the others in our group, saving everyone else the time it would take to research the same information individually. We share tips on product development and resource sales and we collaborate on projects that make us more effective collectively. To an outsider it may seem odd that we would give away information to others who could be perceived as "the competition." However, it's just the opposite. We know that all of us together know more than any one of us individually, so if we collaborate and cooperate with people who hold similar standards and goals, we all grow faster. It's just like the adage says, "A rising tide lifts all boats."
All of the members of our mastermind groups, each of whom is a highly motivated individual, stated that membership in the group has made them 20- to 30-percent more effective in those areas where they needed to grow. Warning! Other people will observe the effect of being in a mastermind group and will want to join, but you have to be incredibly selective. This is not a group to mentor people who are at a different stage in development than you are. That can be done in other venues. All of the people in your mastermind group need to be at approximately the same level of development. Of course, you will have different areas of strengths, and this is important because you can help each other develop those skills, and/or those skills can be applied to help each other achieve their goals. The easiest way to say this is that mastermind groups work best when made up of equally skilled peers.